EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc., a New York City-based energy developer, plans to construct approximately 29 wind turbines across 5,000 acres of rural land in Western New York by the end of the year, according to its website.
Dan Latiovane, project communications manager for EverPower, said the introduction of wind energy will bring economic, environmental and health benefits to the region.
The turbines’ capacity will be roughly 2.5 megawatts, he said – the equivalent of powering about 20,000 households each year without the hazards of getting energy through hydrofracking or coal.
But according to Kathy Boser, dean’s secretary and office manager of the Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication and an Allegany resident, the wind turbines will cripple the community surrounding her.
Boser, whose property borders the planned locations of the Allegany Wind Project, currently spearheads a legal appeal on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Cattauragus County. If successful, the appeal will halt a multi-million dollar initiative to bring ‘green’ energy to the Southern Tier.
No one notified Boser of the Allegany Wind Project.
The news came one day when she heard the sounds of construction on a hillside of her 63-acre property in the sparsely populated Chipmonk Valley area.
“I thought maybe they were going to be logging beyond our property, and so I started inquiring,” she said. “They said, ‘No, we’re building test towers for windmills.'”
Prompted to find out more, Boser started investigating the costs and benefits of wind energy.
“I did not have an opinion one way or another when I first heard about this,” she said. “Then I started doing research. I think of our outgoing town supervisor’s response to the Olean Times Herald. As he was leaving office, he said he based all his opinions (about the wind turbines) on research, and the rest of us got our information from coffee houses.”
Boser said she doesn’t believe the benefits of wind energy outweigh the costs, nor does she view wind power as ‘green’ energy due to its negative environmental impacts.
“(The turbines) will be on either side of our property,” she said. “For those who live here, either in the Chipmonk Valley or the other valleys on either side, we have personal reasons for wanting to know how the (turbines) will affect us personally. We’re wanting to know how our water will be affected from the runoff from construction, and property values – will anybody want to purchase these houses?”
Since word of the wind project reached Allegany’s townspeople, opposition has grown – culminating in a moratorium during November’s town elections, when the townspeople voted out a majority of town officials who supported the wind project to replace them with new ones.
Boser decided to take legal action to prevent the project from happening, hiring environmental lawyer and Allegany resident Gary Abraham to meet with lawyers from EverPower.
“It was one of the first instances when I saw that they weren’t completely truthful in what they were presenting,” she said. “That will be part of our appeal process, which I expect may take place as soon as this summer.”
A Green Revolution
EverPower, with ongoing wind projects on both coasts of the United States, expects to have little difficulty in finalizing agreements to start the Allegany Wind Project. Funding for the project has not yet been determined, Latiovane said.
“A lot of the opponents have made statements that have been unchallenged,” Latiovane said. “Wind power is probably one of the least invasive sources of energy. It’s a clean, renewable source. Not only is it an alternative to natural gas and fracking, but also fossil fuels that are known to cost many billions of dollars each year in health problems, such as asthma and other breathing and pulmonary illnesses and diseases.”
After those agreements, along with Boser’s legal appeal, are settled, construction may begin.
Latiovane said the land where EverPower plans to raise the turbines is not the pristine wilderness some make it out to be.
“There are literally thousands of gas wells and abandoned oil barracks,” he said. “The area’s been timbered and mined. It’s very important that we build in an environmentally sound and safe way and have as limited an impact as possible on the wildlife and vegetation.”
Location scouts at EverPower saw the area as a viable option due to its wind capacity and access to the energy grid, Latiovane said.
“You just can’t build wind farms anywhere,” he said. “They have to have access to the transmission and the electrical grid. The New York market, with its very strong renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, is also very attractive. So the market, the wind resources and access to the electrical grid are the main reasons.”
He said the company plans to follow the Town of Allegany’s strict noise ordinances as necessary, as well as keep the turbines’ sites at a regulated distance from residences.
“The sound of a wind turbine is roughly equal to that of a running refrigerator,” he said. “There’s a fallacy out there that these things are extremely noisy. The DBAs, or the decibel levels, are similar to a countryside in rural Illinois.”
The Allegany Wind Power Project’s final environmental impact statement, which can be found at alleganywindfarm.com, quotes an unnamed resident of the Town of Allegany:
“There are so many reasons this is not a good thing for our community, or for our region,” the person said. “There may be a few extra dollars seen for a while because of this project, but in the long run, it will cost us much more, both economically and at the expense of the quality of life we have come to take for granted. At what cost do we sell our beautiful landscape? At what cost do we sell the birds, bats and other wildlife that are a vital part of our natural resources?”
Boser said putting a price on the well-being of the community isn’t an option.
“EverPower actually met with a group of us opposing the project and wanted to know what it would take,” she said. “Our response was that there’s nothing they can offer.”
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